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The views from the 39th floor

Published Apr 07, 2016 – By Tim Turner, Content Director


It’s 6.30am on a frosty morning in January, and Matt (the account manager) and I are wandering the corridors beneath Canary Wharf like lost souls, looking for a secret portal into a magical kingdom. Well, actually it’s the contractor’s entrance to the Citibank building, but it’s as well concealed as any secret portal. We walk past it three times before we finally spot it, enter, collect our contractor’s passes, meet up with the film crew (who’ve come in through the loading bay in a van) and take the goods lift up to the AFME offices on the 39th floor.

We’re here to shoot a brand video for AFME – the Association for Financial Markets in Europe, an organisation that acts as a single voice for Europe’s banks and other financial market participants, advocating on their behalf with regulators and policy-makers. You may not have heard of them – which is precisely why we’re producing this video, which will explain who they are and what they do in five minutes or so.

At 9am, having watched the sun rise, I’m enjoying the view east from the 39th floor, which takes in the O2, City Airport, the Emirates Air Line and, way off in the hazy distance, the Dartford Crossing. The cameras and lights are all set up in the boardroom and we’re just waiting for our first interviewee to arrive.

Today is the culmination of a process that began a couple of months ago, and which has been founded on meticulous planning. It started with a briefing and a follow-up meeting, in the course of which we established exactly what AFME wants to get out of the video and the messages it needs to convey. We used these learnings to put together a detailed storyboard, divided into clear ‘chapters’, and a list of questions for each of the six planned interviews.

Those interviews take place over two days and feature key members of AFME itself, board members who are also senior executives of firms such as BNP Paribas, Lloyds Banking Group and BNY Mellon, and an MEP who has had many dealings with AFME. All are engaging speakers and, crucially, patient when we have to keep stopping as yet another plane lands or takes off from the airport, passing alarmingly close to the building. Despite the interruptions, we get what we need quickly and efficiently.

The planning really pays off when we get to the editing stage. The video editor is able to follow the storyboard very closely, and the only real challenge is cutting the video down to a manageable length, given the amount of good material we’ve got to work with. Once that’s been agreed, it’s just a question of adding the final touches that will make the video truly engaging: footage of Europe’s financial centres that reinforces the key messages, an animation that explains the key points of capital markets union (one of AFME’s main priorities), and music that subtly emphasises the dynamic mood of the film.

Everyone is delighted with the finished film, which you can see here. And I have fond memories of two days spent moving around the Citibank building via the goods lift and service corridors, feeling a bit like Bruce Willis in Die Hard. And the views from the 39th floor really are spectacular.

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